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Like birth, death, and taxes – conflict is inevitable.

Whenever people gather together, there are bound to be different points of view that often lead to disagreements. Conflict in the workplace can be an unwelcomed distraction, and can result in damaged relationships and lower morale.

The ability to manage conflict is an important managerial skill.

A study of middle and top-level executives revealed that the average manager spends about 20 percent of his or her time dealing with conflict, according to HR Magazine.

Keep in mind that conflict can have a positive side. If handled properly, conflict at work can help employees discover better solutions and possibly spark major innovations.

Whether conflict becomes a full-blown feud or inspires creative problem solving, in large part, is up to the managers. If managers don’t handle conflict well, it may actually provoke additional problems.

So what are the ways to manage conflict? Here are our suggestions.

· When attempting to solve a dispute, first focus on common goals. Try to find an area of agreement before negotiating disagreement.

· Practice active listening skills to sort through the sources of conflict. When people feel heard, they are more likely to listen to another point of view.

· Discuss problem situations with all parties before determining the best course of action. Seek feedback from someone else on the proposed solution before instituting it. Look for win-win solutions.

· Examine your work processes or organizational structure to determine if reorganization might reduce stress and conflicts. Conflict is not always caused by interpersonal problems, but may be the result of inherent structural problems.

How do you handle conflict in the workplace?